Richlite Curse

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Milspec, Jul 1, 2019.

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  1. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    I was looking over some Godin instruments today (I own several and a big fan) and see that they have made the same mistake that Martin and others are making...using Richlite for their fingerboards.

    Due to the all the fuss that has caused Rosewood imports to be expensive, builders are looking for alternatives and some have chosen this crap called "Richlite". I am even more surprised that it is the bigger companies making this idiotic move and it might lead to an era of mistakes.

    For those that are unaware of this stuff, it is basically a kitchen counter top material using resins and recycled paper compressed into a construction material. It does not belong on a quality instrument!

    Sure, it feels very hard and slick so some might like that, but so is formica....want that on your 6 figure guitar?

    We all talk about those mistakes made over the years (I'm looking right at you Gibson with your robo-tuners) but using such materials in a guitar makes no damn sense to me. The corp execs clearly don't play guitar and if they keep making bad moves like this they will end up slurping soup with the guy who created New Coke.

    I can tolerate some bad decisions, just mod the instrument later, but I am not going to buy an instrument that I need to rip the fretboard off of when I get it home.

    To those company execs out there, I will never purchase an instrument from any of you with such a fretboard. Go that route and you lose my business.
     
  2. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm sure Godin makes some top 6 figure guitars, they are well known for that.
     
  3. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    So exactly what's wrong with it?
     
  4. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    I love the Richlite board on my 2018 Les Paul. Gave me a great looking black board without needing to buy a Custom, which is very hard to find throughout the history of LPs (white LP Studios were your best bet till the model I got). Looks great. Feels great.

    I've ordered a bass neck from Musikraft with Richlite, and I will be gloss coating it along with the rest of the neck, like a Rick.

    The stuff is very similar to the Bakelite/Garolite guards and dots used on early Teles and P Basses. It's just reinforced resin, i.e. a plastic. By the same logic that says it does not belong on nice guitars, neither does any plastic whatsoever. Inlays should all be real animal products, or wood. Nuts should be bone or wood only. Binding and purfling should all be wood. Pickguards, jack plates, pickup rings, and pickup covers should be metal. And, for that matter, nitrocellulose, acrylic, and urethane finishes should come nowhere near!

    Obviously the wrong material for a vintage-correct built, but I've got no problems with it on an instrument that is not trying to be historically based.

    My only concern is how it will handle a re-fret down the road. We shall cross that bridge when we get there.
     
  5. harold h

    harold h Friend of Leo's

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    Robert Godin says their research shows it is over 10 times harder than rosewood, will
    not warp or twist, and adds a lot of extra stiffness to various neck woods that help the
    neck's straightness.

    Although some people dont like it (possibly me included), he makes a compelling
    argument.
     
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  6. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    The only concern I have about richlite as a fretboard materials is that I expect it will be hard and brittle. How will it handle a refret. If it shatters, it’s not going to be a good product for a fretboard.
     
  7. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Wake up and smell the resin.



    You want them to cut a hundred lesser streaked ebony trees down just so you can get your nice even black fingerboard? It’s a problem for classical instrument repairs too. All the good ebony has gone.

    What respect for the world we have.

    Good info on refretting here.



    Based on some quick research, I’d not say no to a richlite fingerboard on principle, if a guitar sounded and played nice.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
  8. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    this is the problem with innovation in the guitar industry do anything that wasn't done in 1957 and the world ends.
    Richlite refrets the same as any other fingerboard.
     
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  9. Paul45

    Paul45 Tele-Meister

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    One of my Gibson's has a Richlite board. Never had a problem with it. Feels and plays perfectly like any wooden fingerboard.
    If you don't like it fine - don't buy it, but don't ***** about it.
     
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  10. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I had a Martin dcpa4 dred with a richlite board. I didn't like it. Looked hokey and cheap looking imo and the guitar was far from cheap. They did a good job of marketing it though.
    If you want to use cheap chit on your products just mention the environment when trying to sell it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
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  11. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Tele-Meister

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    There are many sustainable wood alternatives to rosewood, ebony or, for that matter, richlite. Why not explore those? I guess there must be some economy in manufacturing and inprovement in the bottom line that pushes richlite. As for improved tech performance of the neck, carbon fibre rods do the trick just fine.
     
  12. PC_Hater

    PC_Hater Tele-Meister

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    I don't know what material Kramer used for the fretboard on the Aluminium neck Fretless bass I bought new in 1977 but it still looks good and sounds good. I would happily use Richlite on any new guitar or bass neck. I even asked Warmoth if they would do it as a special for me. They said no, still too experimental for them.

    I should point out I am an engineer and one of my best mates has a PhD in Materials Science! I would never ever buy any instrument that uses rare or exotic woods or animal products. The Warmoth neck I have is Roasted Maple, wood that is local to them from a forest that I hope is properly managed.
     
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  13. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Afflicted

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    The Gibson wood debacle has had quite a fallout for Richlite, sadly.

    Beyond the politics though, who wouldn't use richlite? In most industries, we'd be delighted to replace an organic material with synthetic if there are no significant drawbacks - it's durable, stable, moisture resistant, no issues sourcing it, cheap to manufacture... It seems like a bit of a no brainer, to be honest.

    Where heritage is important sure, stick to the original formula where possible. The reason Gibson got so much stick while Martin have been using it for years with little comment is that they started using it on high dollar heritage products that should have been ebony then told tall tails when challenged on it. Martin are very straight up about using it on their cheaper models for all the right reasons: it's cheap, it does the job as well or better than wood and it means they can use their rosewood and ebony stocks for models where people expect it.
     
  14. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think the richlite is used to force you into the higher bracket if you want a traditionally built all wood guitar.
    The Standard line is now high end thanks to using cheaper build methods on a stepped scale. They can offer nice rosewood boards for peanuts in foreign made or other branded guitars.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
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  15. Cysquatch

    Cysquatch Tele-Meister

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    I could be wrong, but I'm pretty certain that Warmoth does not use local maple. As far as I'm aware, any hard maple (acer saccharum) they use would be from the other side of the continent. I believe they mostly see softer Western bigleaf maples (acer macrophyllum) growing out in Washington, which is not what their site states for the maple they use.

    I love Warmoth and have no issue with this, but if them using local lumber really matters to you, would be worth checking with them on that and/or their sustainability measures.
     
  16. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    Yup, it was after midnight....should have been 4 figure. Math at midnight doesn't always work in a rant
     
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  17. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    Exactly my point. There are reasons to use it as a building material so I understand why a guitar builder would want to do it, but it doesn't belong there....like replacing a hardwood floor with laminate, not acceptable. If they insist on using such products, the price of the instrument should be reduced (the value sure has) and it will just be a matter of time until they start replacing other parts with cheaper crap as well. We seem to allow this to happen too much and accept having to do our own upgrades later.

    For those who suggest that if I don't like it, don't buy it...I agree, but once all the builders go this route there will be no options left. Not buying them is the only way they change their approach. If they gave the option of a richlite vs a wood board, no problem, pick your poison, but that isn't the case. I just don't see this as a good thing at all.
     
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  18. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

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    Gotta move with the times. If Richlite is a cheaper, more environmentally friendly, more sustainable product that does the job then why not? If it saves a tree that’s a good thing. Gotta save some trees for the next generations, and the one after that as well. My only issue is wether richlite is biodegradable or recyclable?

    Let’s be as environmentally friendly going forward as we can. And if you cant get along with new building methods, just limit yourself to only guitars made previously- that still gives you practically *millions* of options if you consider all the guitars already in existence.
     
  19. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    OP thread premise is “suspension of disbelief” . :confused:

    (Even though you’re supposed to think it’s about wood fiber and epoxy/the fall of Godin & Martin.)

    He is trying to get us to believe that there are no used Godin’s & Martin’s with real wood fretboards anywhere on the planet . That they’ve all just disappeared ! :eek:

    Well, just like he’s not buying any Richlite-equipped guitar , I’m not buying his premise ! o_O
     
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  20. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Has anyone, anywhere had a problem with the stuff?
    I mean, other than philosophically or aesthetically?
    Does it cause a rash, dizziness, shortness of breath, or impotence?
    Enquiring minds want to know!
     
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